Monday, 30 December 2013

Tired of Ice and Snow?

Photograph by Frederick William Wallace, WPA H25, MMA MP400.109.2

Those wearied by this winter's ice and snow might want to look into the eyes of Monty Muise, photographed by Frederick William Wallace aboard the schooner Dorothy G. Snow in March 1916. The schooner was on a fishing voyage from Digby to Browns Bank in what Wallace called "a rough, dirty trip".

Titled "Iced Up", the photograph shows how freezing spray can coat a ship with a thick layer of ice. This can make a ship dangerously top-heavy, so the ice has to be smashed off with wooden mallets.

In his book, A Camera on the Banks: Frederick William Wallace and the Fishermen of Nova Scotia, the historian Brook Taylor recounts a grueling winter survival story about Monty Muise.  On a previous voyage, Muise became separated from his schooner in a thick snow storm. His dory contained no food and only a little water. He had no choice but to row towards the distant coastline, far over the horizon. "It was awful rough at times and I'd have to knock off pullin' and git to bailin' the water out of the dory. It was freezing cold  too, and the dory was icing up, and I'd have to knock the ice off of her." Muise was rescued by a passing three masted schooner on the third day. After some soup and coffee in the galley, Muise noticed that they were passing near Shelburne, so he asked to be put over the side with his dory. He rowed over ten miles up Shelburne Harbour and walked into town to get "fixed up" with friends. He was, in Wallace's words, "as tough in physical fibre as they make 'em".

This photograph is from the Museum's Frederick William Wallace Collection, a remarkable assembly of meticulously documented photographs of schooners and their men made by Wallace as he sailed and worked with them in the early 20th century.

Closer to home, some more remarkable winter images can be seen on the blog of Martin Hubley, the Curator of History at the Nova Scotia Museum.  He has assembled some rare and odd shoots of snowy sidewalks from years past from the NSM History Collection.


  1. Hi Dan,
    This is unrelated to this post but I wanted to ask you whether you knew anything about a object at the museum. It's a water pitcher with a picture of a ship and has a lot of pink painting on it. I couldn't find a picture of it online but i thought you may know something about it. My wife and I just moved and I found one of these in an old box of ours (my grandfather was born in Halifax). Any help would be appreciated it.

    Happy new year.

  2. Thank you for the artifact enquiry. I recommend that you go to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic's website ( ) and email me your enquiry from the staff list rather than using the comments section.

    Dan Conlin